From: Beth Grindell HB 2397 has been voted out of the Public Institutions and Universities committee -- 3 Yes, 2 No, 1 Present -- and will go to the floor for a vote this session.

NEW STUDY REFUTES SUGGESTION NEANDERTHALS COULD TALK 02/15/99 California researchers are challenging a study that raised the possibility that Neanderthals could talk. Duke University scientists reported in April that a bony canal in the skulls of Neanderthals indicates they may have had the nerve complex needed to control the subtle and varied movement of the tongue required for speech. A paper appearing in Tuesday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences questions that finding. "The size of the hypoglossal canal is not a reliable indicator of speech. Therefore the timing of the origin of human language and the speech capabilities of Neanderthals remain open questions," said the team headed by David DeGusta of the University of California at Berkeley. responded Richard F. Kay, one of the Duke researchers. Richard F. Kay, one of the Duke researchers, responded, "They've got an interesting point of view and it's stirring the pot." "If their argument is taken at its face value, we couldn't say humans have evolved toward having an increased brain size over the last million years," he said in a telephone interview. The two studies have some similar findings but differ sharply in their conclusions. The Duke study speculated that Neanderthals might have been able to talk, based on findings that the average size of their hypoglossal canal was similar to that of modern humans. The canal, carrying the nerve that directs the tongue, is smaller in apes, which are incapable of complex speech, the Duke study found. Neanderthals, named for the Neander valley in Germany where their remains were first found, evolved around 300,000 years ago. If they could talk, it would indicate speech evolved significantly earlier than has been thought. Researchers have long believed that the ability to make modern human speech sounds did not develop until about 40,000 years ago. While modern humans came along after the Neanderthal, some may have lived at the same time and place as the final generations of those early people. DeGusta said his Berkeley group tested 30 nonhuman primates, compared to just two in the Duke study, and found 15 of them had hypoglossal canal sizes larger than humans. "Because nonhuman primates are not known to speak, their hypoglossal canals should be smaller than those in modern humans," the researchers said. But "many nonhuman primate specimens have hypoglossal canal areas that fall within the range of our modern human sample." "The average gibbon's canal is twice as large as a modern human's ..." DeGusta said in a telephone interview, "so we suggest you cannot use canal size" to indicate the ability to speak. Indeed the Berkeley paper notes that some very ancient hominids had average canal sizes close to humans. According to the criteria of the Duke study, "modern human speech capabilities originated at least 3.2 million years ago in Australopithecus afarensis, a species not previously noted for (brain development), symbolic capacity or even stone tool making," they said. Australopithecus afarensis is the family of the famous African fossil Lucy. He said the Berkeley researchers concentrated on the range of canal measurements rather than their average, concluding that "an individual's ability to speak can depend only on its own canal size, not the mean size for its species." Kay defended his group's use of average size by comparing studies of brain size in ancient and modern species. Modern humans have a brain capacity of about 1,250 cubic centimeters, he said, though in some individuals it is as small as 800 cc. By comparison the extinct species Homo erectus a million years ago averaged about 800 cc, with some larger. "You can say something from this average," Kay said. The Berkeley researchers contention that you cannot draw conclusions from averages means we "couldn't say humans have evolved toward having an increased brain size over the last million years," he added.

SEARCH RESUMES FOR AMELIA EARHART'S BONES 02/15/99 A hunt is about to begin in musty corners of Fiji's medical department buildings for the bones of missing American aviator Amelia Earhart. The government on Tuesday said it had authorized a search of storerooms in the Fiji Medical School and Suva's central hospital for remains of the pioneer aviator that might have been found in 1940 but were packed in boxes and forgotten. Earhart vanished in 1937 while attempting to become the first woman to fly around the world. Most authorities believe she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, lost their bearings, ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific while flying between Papua New Guinea and Hawaii. Some experts think the two were captured by the Japanese as spies and executed. The U.S. Navy conducted an elaborate search and picked up signals suggesting Earhart's plane went down somewhere in the region of the Gilbert Islands in the central Pacific. In 1940, a Fiji naval officer, Stanley Brown, was sent on a reconnaissance mission to uninhabited Nikumaroro, a desolate Gilbert atoll about 1,000 miles north of Suva, and reported accounts of finding the bones of two people of possible European origin. The bones were sent to British headquarters in Tarawa, where a physician concluded they belonged to a man. The bones were ordered crated for storage, but the crate vanished. Richard Gillespie, a former aircraft accident investigator from Wilmington, Del., recently found records of the examination in Tarawa and Britain, The Los Angeles Times reported in December. For almost a decade, Gillespie has been piecing together documents, debris and stories from tiny Nikumaroro _ formerly known as Gardner Island _ hoping for irrefutable evidence for his theory that the pioneering female aviator crashed there. He formed the non-profit International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery to search for evidence of Earhart's fate. Other experts who examined the records said the skeleton was that of a white female of northern European background, about 5 feet 7 inches tall. The Fiji Museum said there are records of two wooden boxes arriving in about 1940 and possibly containing the bones of the missing fliers. The aircraft recovery group has made several expeditions to Nikumaroro in the past five years and recovered fragments of metal sheeting. Tests indicated the metal could have been from the aircraft flown by Earhart.

RAIL CAR IN CENTRAL PARK TO BE RESTORED TO MINT CONDITION 02/15/99 In its golden days, passenger car No. 280 was a deep red and featured red benches with velvet cushions stuffed with horsehair. The oak walls gleamed beneath brass chandeliers, while coal heaters at either end of the car kept passengers warm and a water cooler waited to slake their thirst. Today, the 44-seat coach is Pullman green, housed between a 180,000-pound locomotive and a 30-foot-long caboose in Boulder's Central Park, where it has been for more than 45 years. Covered in several spots by graffiti and suffering from rotting wood, weather damage and vandalism, the 118-year-old car has seen far better days. The car, named "Rico" when it came off the factory lines in 1880, is poised once more to become a showcase of the iron horse that helped build the West. A $125,000 grant, given by the State Historical Fund through the Colorado Historic Society last month, will help the Parks and Recreation Department bring the coach back to its former glory starting this spring. The department also will use $40,000 in matching funds from a 1995 voter-approved sales tax and hopes to tap into $10,000 the nonprofit Boulder County Railway Historical Society is working to raise. Railroad buffs Jason Midyette and Matt Armitage, who run the society, see an opportunity to save a vulnerable historic treasure. "Once they're gone, they're gone forever. They don't make them anymore," said Armitage, who dresses in period vest and cap when he works as a weekend brakeman on the Georgetown railway loop. "It's time for this generation to do their part to keep it around." The coach, which carried people on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, last made trips in the early 1950s between Durango and Silverton. While it never graced the vista-filled Switzerland trail, linking Boulder with mountain towns to the west, it is a rare example of the type of narrow gauge railroad coach that passengers rode to Ward, Eldora and the long-gone town of Sunset. Many people rode the route "to experience the sensation of careening around the extinct craters of the volcanic age ... over the famous Switzerland Trail of America," as a 1913 brochure advertised. The engine, coach and caboose in Central Park were purchased by a group of train enthusiasts, who collected mostly small contributions from several hundred people, and then were given to the city in 1953. The locomotive, in service on the Switzerland Trail from 1898 until a flood wiped out the route in 1919, pulled ore, passengers and supplies up and down the canyon. The first caboose was blown up by vandals with dynamite in 1958 and later replaced in 1975 with one from the Denver Rio Grand Western that was bought from a rancher who had used it as a storage shed. In the coach, an emergency brake cord above the seats could be yanked by any passenger to stop the train. A toilet in a tiny bathroom at one end of the car spilled its contents directly onto the tracks as the engine steamed along. In the dusty, faded interior, Midyette pointed out a series of wood beams that bolster the weakened frame, torn cushions and missing lights and window panes. "Some of this undoubtedly will have to be replaced it's just too rotted," said Midyette, a property manager whose love of trains began at age 3. He hopes as much of the original woodwork and parts can be salvaged in the restoration. The cost of returning the coach to a pristine state is estimated at $175,000. Doug Hawthorne, superintendent of the parks department, said the work will be bid out and likely done by a company in Colorado. The coach, built by a Wilmington, Del., company, will be dismantled, and the restoration could take as long as a year. It isn't yet clear whether the coach will come to rest again in Central Park, but Hawthorne said it will be better protected from the elements and probably opened to the public on select days. "There aren't too many groups or companies that have the ability to do this type of thing," said Hawthorne. "It's going to be beautiful once it's completed."

KILLER FLU OF 1918 MAY HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR YEARS 02/15/99 The 1918 flu that killed more than 20 million people may have quietly percolated for several years, maybe even trading back and forth between pigs and people, until suddenly growing strong enough to become the world's worst pandemic. That's the latest theory from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, which reported Monday that researchers for the first time have completely analyzed a critical gene from the killer influenza virus. The gene likely "was adapting in humans or in swine for maybe several years before it broke out as a pandemic virus," said molecular biologist Ann Reid, lead author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But "we can't tell whether it went from pigs into humans or from humans into pigs," she said. Different influenza strains circle the globe annually. Usually, they're fairly similar to viruses people have caught in the past. Every so often a strain tough enough to kill millions emerges, and experts warn that the world is overdue for another pandemic. That's why understanding the 1918 flu's genes are important. Scientists need to know what made that strain the deadliest ever _ and why it struck down mostly young, healthy people _ to better react if similar killer flu emerges again. Most experts believe that genetically stable flu viruses reside harmlessly in birds, but that occasionally one of these bird viruses infects pigs. The swine immune system attacks the virus, forcing it to change genetically to survive. If it then spreads to humans, the result can be devastating. In two other pandemics _ the 1957 Asian flu and 1968 Hong Kong flu _ viruses apparently made a fast jump from birds to pigs to humans. That's because human flu genes from those pandemics appear very similar to avian flu genes. But the new study finds no similarity between those bird genes and a key gene in the 1918 flu. Reid studied lung tissue preserved from autopsies of two soldiers who died from influenza, at Ft. Jackson, S.C., and Camp Upton, N.Y., and from the frozen corpse of an Alaskan woman. Reid fully mapped the hemagglutinin gene, which is key to influenza infection taking hold. She discovered that the hemagglutinin closely resembles mammal genes. So instead of making that fast bird-pigs-people jump that scientists expect in a pandemic, the 1918 virus apparently evolved in mammals _ either pigs or humans _ over many years before suddenly mutating into a mass killer. It may have percolated in humans as early as 1900, she said. But Reid can't tell if pigs developed the mutation that turned the virus into a killer and gave it to people _ or if people gave it to pigs. Among the evidence: A huge wave of mild influenza struck people during the spring of 1918, but no pigs were sick. Then the flu struck again in the fall. This time it suddenly killed millions of people, and this time pigs were sick, too _ but people who had had the mild spring flu were reported to be immune. Regardless of which species evolved the killer strain, the long incubation period has implications for predicting future flu outbreaks. "We may have to expand our concept of where pandemics come from," Reid said. Institute scientists are analyzing other genes from the 1918 virus, but Reid said the mystery so far is getting deeper. "The more you study it, the more perplexing it becomes." Kossler died before doctors could fly her to Albuquerque for treatment by hantavirus specialists. She is the fifth hantavirus victim in Colorado in the past year and one of more than 200 cases nationwide since the disease was identified following an outbreak on the Navajo reservation in 1993. Her ranch has numerous tack barns and outbuildings and rooms Kossler had converted to hold antique ranching collectibles.,1249,30011638,00.html? Revo Young, at 92, has completed and published a 278-page book about Sevier County: "Sevier County: Past To Present." In the spring of 1846, Fremont and his party arrived at Mission San Jose. "In spite of the hospitality shown Fremont's party, they took Vallejo's rifles and guns, saddles, bridles and flour. Vallejo's personal horses were taken plus they drove away 200 more trained horses upon their departures."